High water levels

With water levels at unusually high levels and with heavy winds whipping, Lake Ontario continued pounding the shoreline at Sodus Point May 3.

LYONS — Sodus Point officials are pushing Wayne County to take legal action against a recently enacted Lake Ontario water-regulation plan that they say is causing significant harm to residents and businesses.

On Monday night, the Village Board passed a resolution “requesting commencement of legal action on behalf of (the) village of Sodus Point.”

Sodus Point Mayor Chris Tertinek read the resolution at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

It notes that Lake Ontario “is at its highest point in recorded history” and that “residents and local businesses are incurring substantial damage along Sodus Bay and the lakeshore.”

The resolution states that village businesses are incurring substantial losses because of those high levels.

It also states that “the adoption of Plan 2014 by the International Joint Commission has substantially contributed to the damage being caused along the lakeshore.”

The board asks for “an injunction against the continued implementation of Plan 2014” and that the IJC revert to the previous water-regulation plan.

Plan 2014 was implemented in January and is designed to allow more natural changes in water levels to recharge wetlands connected to the Great Lake. IJC members say heavy precipitation, not new water-regulation changes, are responsible for the lake’s high levels.

Tertinek and Sodus Town Supervisor Steve LeRoy said the high water has impacted a host of village businesses that depend on the summer boating season to survive.

“It’s not going to be a good summer,” said Tertinek. “There’s been very few boats in.”

The reason: Most of the permanent docks (not floating) are under water.

The popular restaurant Captain Jack’s had to close because of high waters, LeRoy noted.

Tertinek ballparks that village damages are approaching $500,000.

Tertinek and LeRoy said any litigation would have to be a collective effort among the other south shore counties that also are being adversely impacted by high water.

That high water has impacted the county itself. On Tuesday, supervisors passed a resolution that would allow the sheriff’s office Marine Division to dock at Oak Park Marina on the southern part of Sodus Bay in Huron.

One of the division’s docks is at the U.S. Coast Guard site on the bay near the beach park and pier, and it is under water.

The resolution notes that the marina is owned by Sheriff Barry Virts’ brother Michael Virts. However, the resolution states that no fuel or goods will be purchased at the marina unless it’s an emergency.

Also on Tuesday, assemblymen Bob Oaks, R-130 of Macedon, and Will Barclay, R-120 of Pulaski, Oswego County, noted they are drafting legislation to address property damages incurred as a result of flooding and record-high water levels on Lake Ontario.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, over the past six weeks nearly 4 trillion gallons of rain water has flowed into Lake Ontario, Oaks and Barclay said.

The legislation is modeled after changes that were enacted following Superstorm Sandy when property owners suffered huge losses in the storm’s wake. If it is determined that land has been lost to erosion, local municipalities could reassess the property and reduce taxes for property owners to reflect flood damage, Oaks and Barclay said. In addition to providing relief for property owners, the lawmakers said the legislation includes a provision for municipalities and school districts to receive state funds to assist with property tax loss localities experience as a result of the flooding.

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